Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick revealed his ‘strong belief’ that the club captain should be elected by teammates, suggesting there are no guarantees that current skipper Harry Maguire will retain the armband next season should Erik ten Hag think the same way.
Maguire was appointed United captain in January 2020 following Ashley Young’s departure to Inter but has come under increased scrutiny over his leadership and performances.
The England international is currently sidelined with a knee complaint that also offers a potentially welcome break from the spotlight – sick individuals even recently sent a bomb threat to his house.
United are in the market for a new centre-back this summer and have resurrected interest in Villarreal star Pau Torres after opting to sign Raphael Varane instead last year. That would potentially put Maguire’s place as a starter at risk in a fully fit squad.
Ahead of facing Chelsea on Thursday, when Bruno Fernandes will continue to deputise as skipper in Maguire’s absence, Rangnick discussed the idea of the captaincy being a democratic process.
“I strongly believe the captain should be elected by the team,” he explained.
“In Germany we always had a board of four or five players elected by the players. That's what I would do if I was still the manager next season, but I'm not. This is something that Erik will have to decide.”
Listen now to 90min's Manchester United podcast, The Promised Land, with Scott Saunders & Rob Blanchette. On this week's show they discuss Paul Pogba's next step, the Ten Hag project, whether Paul Mitchell will be a part of it, Arsenal 3-1 Man Utd & Man Utd vs Chelsea coming up later this week from Old Trafford.
Official squad hierarchies below a captain and vice-captain are not commonplace in English football, but Ten Hag has specific experience of working in Germany himself during a spell at Bayern Munich. It is also common practice at Barcelona, where the squad typically has four captains.
Contenders to take the captaincy at United should Maguire not keep it would include the aforementioned Fernandes, as well as Cristiano Ronaldo, David de Gea as longest serving player or potentially even Scott McTominay given his home-grown roots.